By Gareth Watkins
CALGARY — “Being in a band is like being in a marriage,” says Erin Jenkins, guitarist and vocalist in Catholic Girls.
“The first part is all fun and puppy-dog love, eventually you move out of that phase and have to work at keeping the magic alive.”
“The magic” being dirty, spooky, soulful synth-punk with a heavy debt to goth and waves both new and dark. Calgary’s very own Catholic Girls, three quarters of whom are boys, might be too young to remember much of the ‘80s, but they’ve got the decade’s queasy mix of populism and idiosyncrasy down. Since forming two years ago from members of just about every Calgary band that wasn’t Tegan and Sara, they have released two EPs of first rate synth-punk: 2014’s Sheila Joined a Cult, which was heavy on the punk, and the excellent April release Psychic Woman, in which the synths come to the forefront.
The aesthetic shift between the two is down to their “ADD” approach to song-writing. They probably have enough material for a full album, but they may stick to EPs for the foreseeable future.
“We’re writing new music so much that it becomes hard to stay with the same songs. Overall our plan is to release more, but cut up into smaller releases rather than trying to create some kind of magnum opus.”
Just because they’re thinking about their release schedule doesn’t mean that there’s anything contrived about what Catholic Girls are doing, or that they’re aiming for commercial success.
“I think it’s a bad idea for any artist to start to care about what people think. Self-consciousness is always the opposite of creativity.”
It is fitting then that the Girls look for inspiration to a time when the strange flavours of popular music hadn’t been boiled out by record companies and super-producers, when Gary Numan’s “Cars” or Ultravox’s “Vienna” could be number one hits. Catholic Girls aren’t going to trouble Rihanna any time soon, and I doubt they want to, but a coast-to-coast tour with stops at NXNE in Toronto and Ottawa Explosion is sure to raise their profile. They cap off the tour at Shake-a-Rama, a three-day festival in Victoria created and curated by their own Shake Records label. They’ll be back in their hometown by late summer, when the nights start getting long, so check them out: judging from the amount of musical evolution they’ve been able to pack into only eight songs so far, this band will keep surprising you.
See Catholic Girls on July 26th at the Bamboo Lounge with Blü Shorts.AB, Alberta, Bamboo, Catholic Girls